Paul Tuthill

Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston.  He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester.  Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011.  Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.

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The second largest public school system in Massachusetts will operate with a $346 million budget in the next school year, a 2.4 percent increase over what the Springfield schools spent this year.

The Springfield School Committee approved the new budget that avoids teacher layoffs and counts on energy savings and other cost cutting, according to Superintendent of Schools Dan Warwick.

" We have really worked hard to make cuts and look for efficiencies far away from the classrooms," he said.

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A program to repair structurally deficient bridges in Massachusetts is about to run out of money.  Legislators point to the renovation of the Willimansett Bridge in western Massachusetts as one of the program’s success stories.

Horns blared and people cheered as the steel truss bridge spanning the Connecticut River between Holyoke and Chicopee reopened to traffic Thursday afternoon following a four- year renovation.

The traffic was music to the ears of Fiore Santaniello, owner of Capri Pizza located just a few blocks down Cabot Street off the Holyoke side of the bridge.

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A major bridge connecting the cities of Chicopee and Holyoke in western Massachusetts has reopened after a reconstruction that took a year longer than planned.

Small business owners on either side of the Willimansett Bridge are rejoicing.

Norma Berrios, who manages a pawn shop just off the bridge in Chicopee, estimated business was down by 50 percent during the four years the steel truss bridge over the Connecticut River was closed to traffic.

"It was tough. I hope we get our customers back. It will be nice to see traffic going back and forth again," she said.

With the summer recreation season beginning a program is underway to test the Connecticut River for contamination that could make people sick

   Water samples are collected weekly at more than 130 river access and recreation sites and tested for E.coli bacteria, explains River Steward Andrea Donlon.

    " Our volunteers go out every Thursday morning and collect samples and the results are posted on line on Friday afternoon so people can know on the weekend what the most recent water quality information is," she said.

A two-year freeze on tuition and fees at the University of Massachusetts won’t be extended next year.  But exactly how much student costs will be going up is still to be determined.

A University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees committee, meeting in Boston Wednesday, recommended raising the tuition and mandatory curriculum fee by up to 5 percent.  The size of the increase will be determined by the amount of funding UMass receives in the state budget, according to UMass spokesman Robert Connolly.

The chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission confirms he is under investigation by state ethics officials.

Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby told the Boston Globe he is cooperating with the investigation and has done nothing wrong.

The newspaper said the state ethics commission received a sworn statement alleging Crosby participated in the process to award a casino license in the greater Boston area despite publicly recusing himself because of personal ties with a casino landowner.

The highest court in Massachusetts has rejected an appeal by a former Springfield police officer convicted of beating a suspect with a flashlight.

The State Supreme Judicial Court in a decision issued Tuesday said errors by the trial judge were not serious enough to overturn the 2010 conviction of Jeffrey Asher. 

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A debate over making substantial changes to the criminal justice system in Massachusetts began in earnest today as advocates for reform traveled to the statehouse to lobby legislators.

Busloads of activists from Springfield, Holyoke, Worcester and elsewhere traveled to the Statehouse in Boston Tuesday to rally and attend a legislative hearing in support of a bill to overhaul aspects of the state’s approach to crime.

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The opening date for the MGM Springfield casino may be pushed back by as much as a year

Springfield city officials Tuesday disclosed that MGM is seeking to coordinate the opening of the casino with the completion of the reconstruction of I-91.  The highway project is not expected to wrap up until 2018, a year after the projected opening date for what would be the state’s first resort casino.

An MGM spokesperson said the company planned to discuss the project timetable with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission at a June 25th meeting.

The location for a new regional Catholic high school in western Massachusetts has been narrowed down.

A review committee for the Springfield Diocese recommends the new school be built either at the former location of Cathedral High School on Surrey Road in Springfield, or adjacent to a Catholic cemetery in Chicopee. 

A spokesman said Bishop Mitchell Rozanski will announce a final decision in a few weeks.

Cathedral was destroyed by a tornado four years ago. Mayor Domenic Sarno said it is vital to rebuild on the site.

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